Tuesday May 31, 2011 / 8:00pm (Preview)The Cherry Orchard
General Admission (Today Only)
How was your experience?
Theatre is a visual and auditory experience. It is not radio. I am not a fan of color-blind casting because in many cases, I find it confusing. For example, when Shakespeare had two brothers, one white, one black, with white father and mother, it not only begged the question of parenthood as a visual riddle, it took a while past the English accents to figure out just who was who. Raven's previous production, Radio Golf, was not colorblind, specifically because the characters as written needed to be black, or the play wouldn't make much sense. That said, at first I thought this was another effort at inane political correctness, but then I saw that it was actually quite clever...all of the serf/slave roles that were written as Russian peasants were now played by black actors. The serfs' liberation in Russia took place contemporaneously with the Civil War, so how appropriate...still a bit confusing though, as their names are Russian. However, my argument was against the casting of one white and one Asian actor as a pair of sisters. It was simply put, visually confusing, and despite Varya's acting ability, hard to buy that these were sisters, and Varya was not an old family retainer. The visual distinction was significantly and appropriately made in the differences in the flouncy, frothy clothing of the naive and frivolous Maria and the stern, buttoned-up, thrifty look of her sister Varya. The set was excellent, and reminded me in the use of space of that of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Some, if not all, of the music, from my reading of the program, was original, and deserves kudos Acting was very weak in some cases, and I feel that the pacing could be tightened up.